- Dec 1, 2009
The hunt for a sixth generation fighter plane officially began today at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. An office of the US defence establishment (Aeronautical System Center) today put out a capability request for information (CRFI) calling for concepts before December 17 to support a Capability Based Assessment (CBA) on a next generation tactical aircraft that can achieve initial operational capability by 2030. The request is being seen as the first step towards a replacement for the only operational 5th-gen fighter today -- the F-22 Raptor.
The CRFI [doc] puts down that the primary mission in the future Next Gen TACAIR definition is Offensive and Defensive Counterair to include subset missions including Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Close Air Support (CAS) and Air Interdiction (AI). It may also fulfill airborne electronic attack and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities... The future system will have to counter adversaries equipped with next generation advanced electronic attack, sophisticated integrated air defense systems, passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons, and cyber attack capabilities. It must be able to operate in the anti-access/area-denial environment that will exist in the 2030-2050 timeframe.
Some of the technologies the US gov wants to know more about include non-kinetic weapons, secondary power generation, heat rejection and optionally manned systems.
Suddenly the whole fourth generation vs fifth generation argument seems to ... well, dwindle.